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Set up a national recycling drive, to replace household 2-cycle power tools with battery operated and manual alternatives.



Households in the United States use hundreds of millions of small two-cycle engines to carry out yard work and other household chores. This includes string-trimmers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, hedge clippers, snow blowers and the like.  Helping the general public replace these carbon producing tools with emissions-free alternatives, provides the perfect opportunity to 1. raise awareness of carbon as a pollutant 2. engender a broader sense of responsibility for the climate and 3. engage people in a specific, memorable action which will lead to further carbon reduction choices in and around the home.

2-Cycle/Re-Cycle would center around local, short-term recycling drives, ideally done in partnership with major home improvement retailers, where householders could dispose of their 2-cycle tools in return for rebates to use towards the purchase of non-emitting alternatives whether electric or manual. The project would include participation by waste recycling companies which would process the discarded tools and provide safe disposal of waste gasoline and oil. The drop off site would also serve as an outlet for information about additional renewable energy options.

Like Toys for Tots, 2-Cycle/Re-Cycle could run on a national basis and provide widespread public awareness for climate issues. Yet the concept is entirely scalable and could be run effectively on a prototype basis even in a single community. 

What actions do you propose?

Carbon awareness is new to me, as it is for most people in the United States. So I have not spent the last decade or two figuring out how to lead a carbon neutral life. Instead, I look at my home and realize how many "normal" lifestyle choices have left me with an inadvertent, yet remarkably large collection of internal combustion engines. To replace all of that equipment will prove costly, and disposing of excess gasoline and waste oil adds another level of complication. My degree of awareness will push me to follow through on replacing these tools, but the vast majority of people in America will have plenty of reasons to quietly ignore the need for carbon emissions change.

2-Cycle/Re-Cycle changes the status quo, by providing psychological and financial incentives to encourage new choices and behavior within the general population. As a national call to action, focused on a single weekend, the public will have the positive feedback of broad community participation. Rebates and rewards offered from a variety of sources (retailers, manufacturers, foundations and governments) will create further incentive to act. The drop off centers will also become sites for the distribution of climate awareness information, and possibly sales centers for other forms of renewable and low-carbon resources for the home. 

Every 2-cycle engine taken out of circulation is another tiny step towards a carbon-neutral future for human society. But more importantly, getting grass-roots individuals to respond and act in an affirmative way moves the entire society forward on climate action. The more positive the experience of dropping off an old tool and replacing it with a non-carbon producing alternative, the more affirmative a spirit will spread in society towards other climate initiatives.

If managed and promoted well, 2-Cycle/Re-Cycle would be a win for households, retailers, manufacturers, governments, community organizations and the environment; without the need for major interventions or policy changes. Of course the inclusion of larger tax incentives and rebates would speed the transition and make participation more likely among lower income families, but none of this would be a prerequisite to get the program started.

Who will take these actions?

2-Cycle/Re-cycle could start with a local community service group and the aid of a local retailer and recycler. However, ideally the project would run in cooperation with a national home improvement retailer such as Home Depot or Lowes which would welcome the positive publicity and which would be in a position to negotiate with non-carbon producing equipment manufacturers for special rebates and further incentives. We would seek the participation of media at the local, regional and national level; as well as the financial support of public and private foundations to cover administrative and operating costs. Governmental support would not be required for the project to progress, however, if tax rebates could be incorporated into the recycling process, all the better.

Where will these actions be taken?

The 2-Cycle/Re-Cycle concept has been designed with the United States marketplace as the primary focus. However, 2-cycle engines are in use around the globe and a modified version of the program could conceivably operate in many other parts of the world.

How will these actions have a high impact in addressing climate change?

We do not have the information available at this time to project a specific emissions reduction outcome.

What are other key benefits?

The grand openings of Apple stores around the world show enthusiastic retail employees cheering on the crowd as they file in to purchase the latest phone or computer.

The 2-Cycle/Re-Cycle drop off sites ought to have the same sort of energy surrounding them, so that as people arrive and as they leave, they go back into the community with a positive attitude about addressing climate change issues. That kind of energy can only lead to more positive outcomes further down the road.

What are the proposal’s costs?

Apart from the administrative costs of running a large scale program like this, the broader economic impact is bound to be positive. The project provides incentives for manufacturers to increase production of carbon-neutral alternatives to 2-cycle tools. The purchases made by households will have a positive multiplier effect in the economy, and to some moderate but measurable degree, emissions will be curtailed.

Time line

A program like this can be run on a prototype basis in one or two communities within a matter of months. Scaling to a national level might take several years to ramp and administer, but should be widely practiced within a few years. The long-term impact will be found in the millions of 2-cycle engines taken out of circulation and in the increased receptiveness of the general public towards other carbon-reduction initiatives.

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